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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 30, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EST

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congressional delegation to europe in 1993, and took rodney with me ask federal highway administrator? we initiated an international program on that trip that rodney administered effectively. i think that, again, by just speaking more domestically, what we have to do is we would deal with how to, as mary was saying, how to get these programs -- to have that impact on the individual at the local level, for them to have that appreciation. what transportation needs and talking about gas tax earlier, when we first put this together
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and we ran this idea by andy card, karl rove, nick, we can get this done, and it was tax increases, so i had two years the first year, two cents the third year, two cents the fifth year, and the only one who really objected to it was mitch daniels, but everyone else was on board. so you have a 15-deck power point presentation in the roosevelt room with the president, go through the whole thing, and if he goes back to page three, picks out his sharpie pen, circles the tax increases, and says, norm, i don't want those tax increases, get them out. and as i recall, it was about a
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$330 billion program i think that we had with about a $7 billion or $8 billion unobligated surplus at the end that have six-year period. so we went back to the drawing board and come back, roosevelt room, same presentation, no tax increase first year, no tax increase third year. fifth year, i put a c.p.i. inflater on the 18.4 cent gasoline tax. go through the whole presentation, go back to page three, the president picks up the sharpie, circles and says, norm, that's a tax increase, get it out. so we went with the taxes that we had, that i took the surplus and highway trust fund down to one billion, and that's where we ended up with, what was it, a $267 billion program and corroboration had some $20
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billion more and made it a 287 program. but the chairman is working on a 230 basic bill roughly. was? >> well, we're hoping it's going to grow. that's what we're looking for tomorrow or whenever he makes his announcement on the bill. but, again, i think we really do have to get back to the basics. i don't mean that in a programatic way, but in a message way of getting it back out to the grass roots so we can -- and this is where the states become very, very important and where we're going to be able to or should be able to get to the people in those
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local areas, as mayor irr i says, who will be impacted by these programs. so, again, thanks to my colleagues for joining us here and thank you, governor and heather, for your -- >> juliana. >> juliana and jeff for their work here at the center. >> i think we're going to take a few questions, and i would make a couple of observations that. first of all, having visited with senator byrd in west virginia, there are some democratic bridges. but that's a good example of the bipartisanship. he and i did a number of good things together, and i love to tell the story. jeff knows it, i think, but we're going to west virginia, and i got to be on time, so i am half an hour early to the airport to go with senator byrd
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to west virginia. and i'm waiting around -- we're using a coast guard airplane, and he said, well, the senator is already on board. true story. it's half an hour early. he's sitting in the airplane, just as only he did, he's got his seat belt on. he's got the papers on his chair, want very, very polite, always very polite, so we had a nice talk, so i was late half an hour early. but the great line is that while it's all local, we get off the airplane, and this is the chairman of the appropriations committee who is revered by everybody, gets off the airplane in charleston, west virginia, and the guy who was putting the chalk into the airplane wheels looks up and says senator byrd, and he said, byrd, i've been looking for you! it is all local. and we're only driven by what local people are thinking. i would just make a couple of observations in followup. we talked about making, picking the right projects and selling
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the right projects. it would be nice if they're exciting. every once in a while, have an exciting project. the most exciting is what occurred in the last 20 years, when we put open tolling, tollway in illinois so people didn't have to wait at the gates all the time and used technology to manage that very effectively. they saw that. so when this time came up for a huge increase in the tolls for illinois, it was almost noncontroversial, because they had saw something that transportation people had delivered on that made their lives simpler and easier. i don't think we should underestimate the value of, number one, get being immediate impact in technology can play a role, and that was innovative and we're going to talk about a lot of innovative and creative ways, because if we just talk to ourselves and think just within the box about what we've been doing before, you know,
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we'll all love each other again, and it will be all great, but we really won't have done the job that i think the governor and the team want, and that's for us to open our eyes, think outside the box, throw up some ideas and talk about them in the next day or so that we might be able to translate into effective ways to fill a significant gap. so, with that in mind, norm knows all of you, so i'm going to ask norm to moderate the questions. >> john, could i ask to you start off? >> yes, thank you. i let the 50-state. mary used to be one of my bosses did, a great job with our finance committee. what's going on at the state level is the same dynamics in terms of politics here at the national. nobody wants to raise taxes, but most people also recognize that transportation is vital to economic recovery, economic
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opportunity for people to seek jobs, etc. but in most state legislators, and norm, you used to work with your california state legislature, the federal dollar is used to leverage increases in state funding. jeff asked jack, what did you mean market share 45% or it means a significant level. it is crucial to the states that you maintain federal presence, federal leadership in that 45% presence, because states then leverage that to pass or sustain or enhance their funding levels. so the question i'd like to ask the secretary that's gathered here, how do we convey this federalist concept that we need both federal and state
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resources to ramp up, sustain the american economy, keep us competitive in international markets, make domestic markets work, create jobs, sustain the economy. how do we create that image? because what's happening at the state level, they're struggling. most states have had to cut the last three years, and a few states are coming out of the hole and able to increase, but most of them are just hanging on for dee life. the last thing they need is to see the federal government go down. sustaining will help, but how do you get across this concept that we're in it together, we need both federal and state leadership? >> does not view this as either second or first year a certain, does not view it as a jobs program, does not view it as a tax issue solely.
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i mean, we've all sort of been different inspirations, served dempt presidents and we've all got variations on those dynamics to talk about, but we are at a very different place. i got to did the o.t. in 1983, and in nearly 30 years i've focused on these issues. this is the first time we've been in this particular place. mary touched upon what is the linchpin, and that is what, whatever you think philosophically and on the merits about corporate average fuel economy standards, cafe, the obama administration has mandated by the middle of this decade, cars on average will bet 40% better mileage. the fuel tax, which today cannot sustain current programs, is going to be hopelessly under water very
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soon. and even if we don't get to this 2025 number, which i doubt we will, if we just are on the path that i think we're going to be on, i think that 40% is going to stick. we're in a heap of hurt. you think we got a problem today? we got no problems compared to where we're going to be in the last half of this decade. and yet when secretary lahood very early in his tenure had the audacity to talk about this issue and talked about the fact we needed to look at a v.m.t., he got publicly slapped down by robert gibbs, the press secretary at the white house. and he's a very resilient fellow, and he got right back up and kept on trucking, but he didn't say that again. so that whole dynamic has got to fundamentally shift after this next election.
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i'd be on a beach somewhere enjoying life if i was smart enough to know who shift it, but i know that it's got to shift or elsewhere we are today is minor. so, to get to your question about how we explain the fact you've still got to have very ample federal resources is several miles down that road, our problem today is a crisis that's all but immediate without raising fuel taxes. can't be done. i think we all would agree. you can scotch tape together some stuff for a couple of years, but you can't do it on a sustained basis. so you've got to have that fundamental debate. it's going to take leadership. president ice inhour personally gets credit, and he deserves a lot of credit for the interstate highway system being born and creating the basic
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mechanism. that was a very bipartisan exercise also, and it had virtual universal support in both parties. so again, we've got to get back to that level of discussion. fuel taxes are broken permanent until my judgment. we can't raise fuel taxes a nickel. we're talking about raising them 30, 50, 75 cents to sustain current programs in just a few years. not going to happen. anybody in the room disagree? anybody in the room think we're going to raise fuel taxes by that much? ok. so we're at a point that is unique, a fundamental departure from where we've ever been before in our collective experience, and it takes first recognition of that, and then it is going to take, i think presidential leadership of this sort, that's a bipartisan basis. we don't get presidential
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attention very much. i think that's sort of the next step, and then hopeful physical we figure that out, we can answer your questions sale about leveraging state funds. >> you aren't suggesting the president shouldn't be moving forth aggressively on fuel efficiency. >> well, yes i am, but that's another space. >> that doesn't make sense. that doesn't make sense. >> that's not the role of the federal government, but that's a different matter. >> well, it is. >> and there probably should be some of that. but it can't be a one-sided and a one size fits all proposition. and that's where we are.
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we've got to figure out a way to deal with the additional funds that are needed, not just to patch up -- i don't think we can afford to be basic when it comes to dealing with something that is so critical to the overall economy and to our quality of life as to just to do the basics, especially not when, when we made this trip some years ago internationally, we could see then that the competition was getting very, very close to us and actually leading on some major transportation investments and major transportation thought. we can't compete when countries around the world have better better ports and transportation systems than we. transportation is about jobs. it's about jobs, healthcare, it's about all of these things that a president talks about.
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that's how we get into that message. and with this president, he talks about high-speed rail, and i'm excited about high-speed rail. i don't think that it's something that you say is for the future. you may say that it may be for another day, but if we aren't thinking about it now, and when we introduced asela, we were not 10, 15 years behind, it's just that we haven't done anything in 10 years. we weren't as far behind the japanese and other european countries at that time. we're far behind them now because we haven't done enough since. >> but jim's point, jim's point is i think it's on your point too, the gas tax system as we see it today is not going to throw off the revenues -- >> i agree with that.
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>> when it was devised, we expected it would throw off. >> exactly. >> and it is not going to be easy to fix. so therefore, whether you have hoe miles a gallon, 30 miles a gallon, it's still going to be down, so we got to think outside the box. >> it's the user tax. people seem to me to support a user tax. so what happened in this history where people who are willing to use a user tax in the form of a gasoline tax, wherein they're getting their tax fills, they're willing to sit there and pay for it, and then now -- and i remember sitting in the room down in phoenix when david -- i mean, drew lewis was talking to o.m.b., and he said i've got two speeches. one was a five cent gasoline tax increase, and the other one without it.
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which people am i going to give? he kept arguing as to why we need that had five cent gasoline tax increase. and i guess they must have finally said -- because we could only hear one side of the conversation, oh, all right, go ahead and give the one with the five cent tax increase. man, jim howard and bob rowe, john paul, jean from kentucky, i mean, we all, yes! but that spirit isn't there now. why is it that the gas tax was a user fee all the sudden now is in disfavor? we can call it vehicle mile tax. we can put all kinds of lipstick on some names, but what is it we need to be able to get movement, some traction?
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we're going through all these extensions, and i've got another extension. i just wonder, what is it in terms of that user tax that was pretty sacrosanct at one point and now is just -- you can't use the phrase gasoline tax. >> and again, congress incrementally increase the fuel tax, but it was a good proxy, it was a good proxy at that time given where we were in that day? there was a good proxy, and we're seeing that widen further, further, further. but i think we need to define a clear national interest and funding transportation, because it's become nothing but a one works program. it's every man or woman for themselves in terms of the bill. so if we had a clearly defined
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national purpose that the citizens of this country could get behind, and agree with you in terms of user fee, i think the v.m.t. is where we're going to end up going as opposed to the fuel tax, but i think the closer you can keep the use of the system to the cost that people are paying for the system, the better off we are. but a clear national purpose, what is it the federal government is going to do? john, to your question earlier, having spent time on a state level as well, the argument that if we don't have enough state gas tax to at least match the federal system plays well for a while, but not long. i thought every state in this last two legislative cycles strip out every available dollar they could from transportation programs and spend it somewhere else. in arizona, if the highway gas tax wasn't constitutionally prohibited it would have been gone, but they lost everything else. so that argument holds water for a little while, but not long. what's the federal purpose? if we can define that, then we can define a methodology for having revenues until into the
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federal government that the public will believe in. >> ellen? >> i'm thinking when we look at them every two years, you're all beneficiaries of that reports. they generally show up with something like a 6-1 benefit cost ratio. so people would find marching up and down saying please tax me. clearly that doesn't seem to work, and i think it's perhaps as mary says that funny things happen when you send money to washington, funny things happen when you send money to richmond or any state capital. so it all comes back, i think, to credibility. we've all talked about credibility in various forms. you all have. and you begin to think maybe it's just the nature of all government. but, in fact, i think we've got a special problem, because i
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can go back into the 196 he's, and we've had that issue of making the case for a gas tax increase as far back as then. it was a massive selling job, in fact, in 1956. it was not easy, 55, 56 people had to really -- a.a.a. and american trucking really had to push. we assume now it was a done deal, everybody knew it was a good idea. it wasn't. >> by the way, it was defense. one of the important factors, i'm very concerned about the notion that we have a tendency to go from what we know to something we don't because it maybe looks better. if we go to something like the v.m.t. tax, which has a lot of merit to it, at the same time that they invoke it, it's going to freeze and lock exactly the gas tax. no one, unless you make a funny assumption, is going to be willing to raise that v.m.t. tax unless there's credibility that goes along with it
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somehow. i think we have to examine the credibility and whether it's giving people a menu that says if you give us this, we do that. if that's the mechanism that it takes, i'm not sure. but i think we certainly have failed in making that case. one of the great failuresy seen, when we do a great job on a project, we don't do an after study and say, see, this is what we do. if you look at the -- well, look at the wilson bridge. all say, if it happens, this is what the benefits will be, and then we don't go back and say, we did it, this is what the benefits are. the benefits are colossal. but i don't think the public, as you said, the public never sees that kind of description of the situation. >> that's why the moratorium on ear marks is so important right
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now. and also, don't forget, ear marks are just not exclusively a federal problem. the state and local have just as big a problem as they allocate theirs. but people's confidence, you know, they're kind of attracted to a $250 million bridge between a small town in alaska. and they're not focused on wilson bridge or some of the other major projects that they've undertaken or they think about the big dig, which was 20 years ago, in a different environment, different kind, which probably even could not be allowed to happen in today's world with the way -- so i think it's part of -- but you've got to get local, because people don't view government, just washington and local. today they're looking at it, their local government is broke. they're spending money on things they don't think is as high priority as they should. the federal government is spending things on high priority. neither one of them is spending it efficient until their mind
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because they tie it to one or two projects, so you've got a culture change internal until both the state and the federal government. the federal government leads in this area in some respects. and then number two, going to your point, i'm on several public boards. i've always insisted, we have a look back at one, two, three majors to see did it perform at what we thought it would perform at. but don't forget, if up don't perform at a debt level, you don't want to look back. so you're afraved a look back, and there's no public directors to say, you know, do a look back. but you're absolutely right. you can sell a lot with what we've really done. >> i think norm has touched upon another critical issue here, which is that the idea of a user fee has just been obliterated. when you crank up the printing presses and transfer $34.5
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billion into the highway trust fund from general treasury accounts, there goes the idea of a user fee. you can't have it both ways, yet that's what we've done, and now we're trying to figure out where to find the next $12.5 billion to fund the senate's two-year bill. so we're at ground zero on the user fee concept. there's support for that still out there. they've been on the public record for several years as supporting a diesel fuel tax increase. so long as it's been on highways. it is a true user fee. if it's spent on bike paths, they are adamantly opposed to an increase in diesel fuel taxes. if it's spent on museums, they're adamantly opposed. i have a nice bicycle, i love riding it on the weekends, and i will tell you, the image you
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don't want, i do not wear spandex. but i'll tell you what, if you haven't priced a bicycle recently or bicycle repairs, they're expensive. and i don't know what the spandex costs, but i suspect that costs a lot too. so, my question is, if people can aboard bikes that cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, why don't we have a bicycle user fee to fund bike paths? you know, if it's that important, then let's let the users fund it and go back to the fundamentals of user fees. and i think that would take us -- that would take us a fair ways down the road of re-establishing credibility with the american public for our programs. if the people who are benefiting from the programs are asked to contribute to those programs.
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but don't ask the trucking industry to subsidize the bikers. they can use the fancy bikes too. >> i would be very nervous about a federal policy that said washington is going to tell you what you can build. we're going to have a national system, if you are not on the national system, forget t. i think we have to not give up on the idea that there's flexibility, there's choice that can be made out there. there are good projects, and it's not simply an engineering decision that a certain number of road the are what we're going to pay for. that didn't actually work well on the interstate system. it was not a picnic either. >> you're exactly right. washington should not dictate that. i think that's what we got to be able to get across is what are you getting. it may not be the very specific road you're driving on, but it's some degree of improvement of your life that you're getting by paying your taxes
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and being part of a system that decides how to spend the money. >> defining what is the federal interest and what is -- what is in the interest of a nation, like connectivity, like freight movement, things like that, like having interstate standards from one state to another, i think those are things that i could all argue. i would argue the safety programs are in the national interest. we don't want commercial vehicle driver's licensed differently from state to state like they used to be. >> up to the see some investments that are not traditional. you think outside the box, it leads to you think that people actually want to see and are willing to support. but if the local government wants bike paths or something like that, they should be willing to pony up local money for doing that as opposed to federal dollars. >> local money, federal money, it goes into a pot and you make decisions. we're saying restrain those
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decisions. >> that's what i believe has led to a lack of confidence. >> i think we have a couple of issues going on here. one is a real divergence and the comments that some of you made about us talking to ourselves and then the going out and listening. what we're buying and how we articulate at the national level, i don't think this is what the public wants to have the investment being made in. if we were willing too change the mix of things, we might have more support at the local level and the state level. they measure the balance and every issue, about 3/4 get approved. it's a way different balance than what we talk about here at the national level. it's bike paths, it's transit,
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it's highways, may even be rail in some cases. so they're willing to pay when they a sense of what it is and when there's much more of a balance in what the product and the output is. i work with people who say, why should we fund anything if they're just going to do more of the same, which breeds part of the cynicism that we talked about? i've gone out and been hollered at about building roads night and day for endless times. people see an increase in capacity, opens up for more development, which crowds up 9 road, and they don't see a way out of this vicious circle. we're not offering other ideas to help them get to a different place. i think there's a diverge nents product that makes it really hard for people to subscribe to just more of the same.
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>> there's been a common thread running through the comments today about lack of confidence. to me, it appears that that is true in the way money is raised, as well as the way money is spent. i think the public perceives that we've waited so long and the cost is so high that you can't possibly raise taxes high enough to meet the needs that have been validated. second, i think the public senses however money is raised, whether it's through the gas tax or through a vehicle miles tax, the funds are supposed to be dedicated, they're supposed to go into a trust fund, and what i perceive is that the word trust has been devalued.
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so my question to all of you as former secretaries would be, how do you keep the funds from being fungible? how do you keep the funds from being perceived by congress as well as the public as transferable, even though they've been poured into a trust fund? >> well, i think, again, we're talking about the same issues, but from diverse viewpoints. i think you do exactly what i suggested, which is, if you want bike paths, then you generate revenues from those who are the beneficiaries of the bike paths that are dedicated to the bike paths. that is not a radical concept except for the fact that the people who are riding on the bike paths today are accustomed to have been somebody else subsidize them. and so, there's not a lot of support from the bicycling community, i would suggest, for bicycle user fee. but in certain urban areas, we come back to mary's exchange
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with mort a little bit, in certain urban areas, the kind of mix that we heard about is goinging to very popular n. other areas, it's going to be very unpopular. so we need to have devices on the state and federal level that permit us, given what citizenry wants to have diverse programs funded, do that, but not tap into federal funds that have been paid, for example, by the trucking industry. even if the economy grows a little bit over the next decade, we've err we're going to have 30 missouri more freight to move in this country. railroads do not go to 80% of our communities. intermodalism is a concept we're all familiar with, where you put the trucks take the freight to the trains and the trains take it halfway or all the way across the country, and then they unlead it the last few miles, and that's the concept that's very efficient and works very well.
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it's going to take highways. when you say to the trucking industry, oh, but you have to have enhancements and flexibility, i say, wait a minute, we got to move freight across this country. and there's going to be a lot more of it. and i think, governor, that's exactly the concept that we've lost that we have to re-establish. we do have to narrow cast. you want me to pay a tax in the transportation field, i want to get back to norm mineta's point about user fees, then spend it on money that i see the benefit from, where i can use it. and if you want flexibility, green, we can talk about turn back to the states, we can talk about a variety of alternatives that give states and locales flectict. certainly on the federal level, i think we've got to try that
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narrowcasting approach again to have any chance of re-establishing credibility. at the risk of being blasphemous, i wanted to press on you this abolition of ear marks. it just occurs to me that ever since congress stopped earmarking, we haven't had a successful authorization of any program. the first thing that happened when ear marks were abolished was the transportation and infrastructure committee shrank in membership quite dramatically. we waited for two years to get safety because they were working on 6,000 ear marks that had to be part of the bill, and everybody thought that was offensive. but secretary skinner said it's all local. isn't this the way you connect members to the local dimension in a way that actually delivers action which we haven't seen
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without them. can you talk about -- would you have delivered iced tea without a negotiating coin that ear marks undoubtedly provided to you as chairman at that time? >> ear marks were large. when we were secretary, there was no discretionary fund. i remember the r.n.d. piece of safety, they authorized 125% ear marks, 125% of the authorized amount. and then they said, mineta, you choose which ones to fund. and i said the hell with it. i didn't go over the 100%. you guys did. you picked them. jeff, you remember the wrestling we went through, and finally the congress did narrow their wish list down.
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to do some of that work on that one, but again, where you get 125% of what's authorized in ear marks, i mean, -- >> 6,000 ear marks represented what 68% of the overall? almost 10%. that's 10% of $287 billion. i'm not suggesting that's not real money. >> several said this today, including jack. we have to acknowledge the national fiscal realities we're dealing with today. we have to acknowledge the fact that this nation is under more fiscal stress than we've ever been under, likely since the great depression. and many of us know if we don't correct, that's where we could be again today. the public realizes that. a committee that was tolerant of a number of ear marks to get a bill passed like happened in 2005 doesn't exist today.
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it doesn't matter how many members are on that committee. leadership is not there today. we really have to demonstrate to the public and america that we're spending the dollars we take from them wisely and well and we're not spending excess moneys doing things we don't need to do right now. i don't think we can divorce where we are from the reality. >> reauthorization bill had 154 ear marks on it. now, unfortunately, one of them was the big dig. and president reagan vetoed it largely because of that, but it was an outgoing gift to tip o'neill, and his veto was overridden, you remember that, norm. and so it is possible -- it is possible to pass surface transportation reauthorization bills in my lifetime, in yours at least, without thousands of ear marks. and i'm not here to debate the
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merits or lack of merits about ear marking. all i know is it's 75% of the people in state after state say they're opposed to fuel tax increases. there is that fundamental loss of trust, as the governor referred to. it doesn't matter where it's 2% or 25%, it's the symbolism. and that's what we've got to address and get beyond, i think. >> i've heard a lot of great comments and questions. i had one observation and then a question for the panel. first, when you have a meeting in washington, you get stuck in the jargon of washington too much. and die think, rodney slater said it right, the public opinion polls show people care about jobs more than anything else. so so if you do not brand transportation for what it is, a potential engine for job creation, then you're missing a
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public opinion opportunity. why is that important? because the whole point of this conference is about not whether transportation is important for the nation, but whether there's a better way to message about transportation to connect it to the lives of people. right now, there are at least 14 million of theam that don't have a job and probably another six to eight million underemployed. so, to say that it's not connected to job creation is a mistake by those that care about the transportation system of the country. and two, i think we get caught up as the jargon. i don't think the average person understands whether or not the supercommittee was a good idea or bad or whether they did their job or didn't do it. what they do know is they don't have a paycheck, and they're working for a government that works better. i think if this conference accomplishes anything else, it is to come out of here with a better messaging approach that doesn't get in a fight that
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people outside the beltway don't even understand. so one question about that that i think is important, i hearp the business community talk about the need to invest more in transportation. last time i checked, public-private partnership has public and private in it. i'm wondering whether there's a way to engage small and large businesses to start talking about the fact that without a reliable, robust public sector role, there will be no private sector role, because you hear a lot about the private sector saying we're not going to jump in to these large ininfrastructure projects if we don't have a reliable mechanism. i offer that as sort of a question and observation. >> still goes to the thing we were talking about, trust in confidence in the projects and your ability to deliver. yes, they want to do that. they make a lot of associations
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to do that case. unfortunately, when the director of those associations come back and say we got to go to the hill and talk about these projects, and then they find out, are they really being -- is this money that you were asking us to take to washington, is it being effectively spent? there are a lot of good projects that were earmarked that might have been built anyway. the problem is, whether it's a public corporation, school, anything, if you don't have some method of accountability and some process to put these things through so that when we come out at this other end, everybody knows they got -- and maybe there will be a few outliers, that at least they went through some rationalization and take the jobs bill. in 1992, we had the same issues they faced today. we didn't have the money. but the point is that if you went back and validated how the money was spent and how many
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jobs it created, i think you'll find that it didn't do and most people know that, because it was -- it took a project that was underway, already was going to be built, brought it forward, they're probably going to say, i can give you three alone. so, therefore, when we talk about jobs, we talk about putting money in the infrastructure to build jobs, but the point is the infrastructure, that we're creating the jobs for on a temporary basis, ought to justify jobs on a permanent basis. if you don't connect that, then what happens is they leave with a bad taste in their mouth, we threw money in a hurry to get money out that didn't go through that -- i'm not faulting anybody, because, you know, we're ready. it happened too late for a lot of good project toss catch into the queue. so american business is saying,
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i pay taxes, my people pay taxes, i'm on my people to get work, i want them to get work, i want to have my cost of transportation to be effective. it's as cost effective as it can, and how you do that is your responsibility, and we're trying to be a partner, but you better learn to do it right. because if we don't see that you do it right, we won't come back to next time to support you. >> we're getting close to the witching hour, but i want to call on three people who had their hands up. >> i keep a blog of highway users, about 18,000, mostly folks that are either truckers or motorcycles, to weigh in on transportation issues. those are the folks that are most interested. either because they spend their
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life working on the roads or they love the roads for recreational purposes. and these are advocates for highways, but they still send -- i still sense a large number who feel that, well, if they paid more, it would go into some black hole in washington and we don't know where it would be going. so, listening to some comments about how great it used to be, i wonder if the idea of a time -- seems to me -- and i don't know if i have my history right, but the old system where it was cost to complete lines on the map and this is what you get and what you paid for, along with kind of an elevated status of nonelected bureaucrat i can leaders, i guess mainly engineers that occurred back at the time in the 1940's and 1950's and 1960's, that led to this feeling of the country
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building something worth paying for. i don't know if they're saying it just to get past this issue of we need a vision, that kind of stuff, to really convince people that this is worth paying for, want lines on the paper any more, but real national goals with a price tag came one the cost to complete, and if that was to be helpful at all. >> can you give some light to what he's talking about? >> well, i think the comment i was going to make is somewhat similar to what greg is talking about. it's based on experience that i've had for 10 years, which is a card that runs from mexico to canada, and it runs through
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western texas, western oklahoma, south dakota, north dakota, very rural america. parts of the america where the anti-tax sentiment is strong, where the tea party is strong, and yet, what i've learned in that corridor, and this is the message, it seems to me we're trying to raise a lot of additional money at the federal level because we need greater investment at the federal and state level. the question is, how can we build public support around getting those additional resources we need and for support for the program. and what i found working with the people along that corridor is they're not going to buy into something abstract. they're not going to support abstract concepts of flexibility, economic development, productivity.
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what they're going do is upgrade the corridor. they talked about it in terms of jobs and productivity. they get it. people understand what transportation means at the local and state level. and when you talk about upgrading that corridor, this area with rural members, with rural constituencies along the way, those mayors, those county execs, they support an increase gas tax with any increased revenues as long as the program is structured in a way that they've got some degree of assurance that that corridor is going to be upgraded over time. the thing that greg is talking about when he uses his cost to complete kind of approach. and so, as we get into defining the federal role, i do think we have to define it in a way that really means something to the public, and what i think in my experience, what that really
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means is them understanding what transportation improvements they're actually going to get, because they can then put two and two together, and as secretary peters pointed out, that was the strength of the interstate system. people understood it, then it becomes transparent, they can see the investment being made, they see the progress, and you solved a lot of the problems that were talked about. just based on that experience, die think that as we move forward and identify this federal vision, this federal emphasis that we're going to have, we can't make it too abstract. the more people understand what they're going to get for it, in a real transportation sense, then the better off we'll be. >> i think that really fits with what you and jack are talking about, interstate 2.5. much of our interstate system today is qualified for an aarp
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card because it's over 50 years of age, and it's aging rapidly, and it needs to be not only maintained, but improvement expanded. it wasn't on the map like the north-south corridors. seems to me something like that we could get our heads arched and say, ok, if that's where this money is going to be spent and this is the very narrow parameters under which it is spent, perhaps we could get people more enthusiastic about putting more money into a federal program. >> it can be multimodal. what it is the federal government is going to inhave in, we need to describe it in a real transportation way to people so that they'll see businesses, local constituents, they know the trnsity system is going to be upgraded, this corridor, they can see what those improvements are. and my experience is they then buy into it. >> well, one thing you've got to do, we talked a lot about highways and interstate system and invest in bridges, we've
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got a whole secretary out there in mass transportation and everyone is there to talk about doing the $3 billion bridge in new york. you've got to -- you can't just pass a bill that looks at this limited thing. there are other interests out there, the intermodal interest, as you talk about, the bypasses, so you really got to market this in a program that encompasses all of this with some overriding considerations, which are effective projects that are designed and properly implemented that will really develop benefits at the end, and whether that filter is, and then put all of them into it, because absent that, you're going to have the same fighting that goes on and you'll hit the wall again. you know, i think that's kind of bigger than just highways and bridges that we got to talk about. >> i've been here about five
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years now, and i've had the opportunity to hear multiple times from many people in this room, from my coalition members that others that say you need to bring the business community to the table. i think all of us collectively have brought attention to infrastructure issues, and the big challenge is how do you get it over the hump and actually get action to that? a lot of times when people say bring the business community to the table, what they want are a lot of brand-name companies standing up in front of cameras like we have in this room and saying, well, what we really need to do is raise the gas tax and what congress really needs to do is step out and do something. but i think a lot comes back to the question of what's in it for me. and these are companies that are under extreme pressure because of rising healthcare costs. we'll be on a panel tomorrow, and they are concerned about taxes, they are concerned about everyone looking at them and wall street and being able to tax them, to nick and he will dime everything else, and that
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boils down to main street. at the same time we can all talk under the veil of being bipartisan, one of the things the military is doing very well is giving us an opportunity as a transportation community to translate some of these things out so we can attack them tomorrow. i think we can get the business community there, caterpillar's support, this expert, other companies that are looking at this are critical to that. but wee got to speak to what their needs are. as a transportation community, yeah, we do a great job talking about safety and enhancements and section this and that. the reality is, they want to know, can i get my stuff and my people to and from places in a way that is cost-efficient, in a way that is safe, in a way that is reliable, and when i decide to make a capital investment, is there going to be the capacity to grow in the future? i don't think we've answered those questions yet.
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>> as the governor is coming, i think two. major voices out there are actually the chamber with tom and with labor, and they're finding common ground. it may provide us some fertile soil for selecting out a couple of specifics for our voice going forward well. >> let me say that this session is preceasely what we envisioned, a robust discussion with the distinguished secretaries helping us read through some of these issues. because it helps us set the stage for the hard work that comes tomorrow. and that is, how do we develop that message as we said before that is clear, concise, and
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compelling, that national concern that really translates into a local initiative. we've got a lot to do here. we start here tomorrow morning with a breakfast, and we start the program at 9:00. now we're going to adjourn across the street to the metropolitan club, just across the street. we have a real treat for you tonight. from 1940 to 1973, watergate, presidents of the united states conducted, on occasion, secret tapings of conversations without the knowledge of the people who were in the room. that ended with watergate.
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so we're conducting a presidential recording program, where we are going through the tapes, presidential diaries, and producing and recording and the general public the website. but tonight we're going to use those jet recordings involving transportation issues. you will hear lady bird johnson jump into a conversation about the beautification, and there are other great hits. and then after this, after that presentation, i have a little surprise with one of our distinguished former transportation secretaries that i think we'll enjoy also. so, across the street, we start at 6:30. thank you very much.
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[applause] [captioning made possible by espn, inc.] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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>> a couple of live events to tell you about today on our companion network, c-span3. the house judiciary committee holds a hearing on state taxation of online shopping. in 1992, the supreme court ruled that retailers with no physical presence in a state did not have to collect sales taxes. that's at 10:00 a.m. eastern. and at 2:30 p.m. eastern, the senate commerce committee considers two nominations to the federal communications commission. in a few moments, today's headlines and your calls live on "washington journal." the house is in at 10:00 eastern for general speeches with legislative business beginning at noon. today's agenda includes a bill regarding union organizing. and in about 45 minutes, we'llik about the congressional agenda withep


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